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Air Conditioning System Condenser

Air Conditioning Condensers:

What is a Condenser?:

The air conditioning condenser simply put is a heat exchanger.

The condenser is the other heat exchanger in a mobile A/C System.  Nowadays, condensers are usually made of aluminum, but in the past, some were made of copper or brass.  Condensers look very much like radiators, just a little thinner, and since they also depend on air flowing through them, are usually located in front of the radiator.

Like radiators and evaporators, condensers are also constructed as a series of tubes with fins around them.  But unlike an evaporator, whose job is to absorb heat, the condenser's job is to release heat.  More specifically, to release the heat the refrigerant absorbed while it was flowing through the evaporator, very much the same way the radiator releases the heat from engine coolant that the coolant absorbed while it was flowing through the engine.  The refrigerant enters the condenser as a high-pressure vapor, but as it flows through the condenser and cools, it turns back into a cooler high-pressure liquid.

Things that can go wrong with condensers:

   Like evaporators, condensers are also susceptible to external blockage, mostly from things like leaves, insects, or ever dust.  A good cleaning with water, maybe even using soap and a soft cloth/sponge keeping in mind not to "crush or bend" any of the fins.  Also as previously mentioned, condensers are also susceptible to severe internal blockage after a compressor failure.  Metal particles and other debris from the failing compressor move into the condenser with the refrigerant, and can quickly block the very small passages inside the condenser.  In some instances, it may be possible to flush this debris from inside the condenser, but in many cases, the blockage is so severe that the condenser must be replaced.

Also like evaporators, condensers can suffer a seam or weld failure, resulting in leakage.  But condenses must contend with something that evaporators don't; because of their "up front" mounting location, condensers can easily suffer physical damage, from debris like small stones and such kicked up off the road, or from front-end collisions.

In the vast majority of circumstances, internally clogged, leaking or damaged condensers are not repaired, but replaced with new units.